Caracal Model F Review

Caracal Model F Review

Caracal-Model-F_001

To buy a handgun in Michigan, after filling out federal Form 4473 you have to drop off a registration card at your local police department. That card is then forwarded to the Michigan State Police, which handles the statewide reporting to the BATFE. I received a phone call from a confused MSP trooper not too long ago who was having trouble with the make of a gun I'd picked up.

"It's a Caracal," I told him.

"I thought that was a typo," he admitted. "It's not in our system."


"It will be," I assured him.



The Caracal is produced in an unlikely location: the United Arab Emirates. While it was officially designed in 2005, it has not been available in this country until recently. The Caracal is now the service pistol of the U.A.E. and, more impressively, it was submitted and passed the grueling German Federal Police Standard and the German Federal Armed Forces Technical Purchasing requirements.

If it looks vaguely familiar to you, the polymer-framed Caracal pistol was designed by a team led by Austrian Wilhelm Bubits, who designed the Steyr M pistol and was on the original Glock design team. And in case you're wondering about the name, a caracal is a desert lynx.

Right now the Caracal is offered in two models—the full-size F and the compact C—and I obtained the Caracal F for testing. While it can be compared to a Glock 17 in size, the Caracal F is shorter in length and height, although it is slightly wider and a few ounces heavier.


The pistol looks and feels like it was designed and made somewhere within shouting distance of the Rhine; the parts all appeared well-made, and the slide-to-frame fit was very nice for a polymer-framed pistol.

The metal finish looks like standard bluing but is actually a proprietary finish called Plasox. This is a plasma-based nitriding surface treatment supposed to be resistant to aggressive environmental conditions. The pistol actually looks much nicer in person than it does in photos. My only complaint with the finish is that it is too slick; trying to rack the slide using anything but the slide serrations is a non-starter.

The Caracal does not have replaceable or interchangeable backstraps, as many polymer pistols now do. As the Caracal's grip is just not that big I don't think this is a deal breaker. Its grip angle is actually just a hair more than a Glock.


The front and back of the grip frame are checkered but not very aggressively. Magazines hold 18 rounds of 9mm and seem very well-made. The magazine release on the pistol is ambidextrous.

The rear sight of the Caracal is part of the firing pin unit. The entire rear of this unit, including the sight, is serrated. There is a large white dot on the dovetailed steel front sight of the Caracal F, and one just below the notch of the rear sight in a figure 8 setup (also available in traditional three-dot and a proprietary Quick Acquisition Sight System that places the rear sight in front of the ejection port).

The advertised and measured trigger pull for the Caracal is 4.8 pounds, which is excellent. The Caracal also has a low bore axis, and the combination of that and the light trigger makes this one very comfortable pistol to shoot.

My only concern before taking the pistol to the range was the position and shape of the slide stop lever. While slightly rounded, it is basically a horizontal triangle of steel that sticks out of the gun right about where my thumb sits.

I shoot everything with a thumb-high hold, and while I didn't have any problems with accidentally kicking up the slide stop with my thumb, my thumb is long enough to ride the slide stop. That means the Caracal is just one more pistol whose slide won't lock back for me. However, the Caracal's slide stop actually sticks out enough that a user can drop the slide with a thumb.

Some manufacturers are already making holsters for the Caracal (including the Blackhawk! Serpa), and I determined that the Caracal F will fit into just about every leather holster designed for the Glock 20/21 or four-inch Springfield XD. Kydex/polymer holsters are less forgiving when it comes to fit, but as more Caracals are sold, more manufacturers will start to make holsters to fit them.

I am a fan of striker-fired pistols, and liked the Caracal. As a brand-new design I think there are a few things they could and maybe will improve. The pistol begs for rougher finish on the slide or forward cocking serrations, and the slide stop seems oddly shaped, but this pistol is a shooter. I think the Caracal will be around for a while.

Recommended for You

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all others will be judged. Compact

SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...

Kahr's K9 9mm pistol is a quarter-century old, and to commemorate the milestone the company is producing a limited-edition 25th anniversary K9. Industry

Kahr 25th Anniversary K9

J. Scott Rupp - July 19, 2019

Kahr's K9 9mm pistol is a quarter-century old, and to commemorate the milestone the company is...

Mossberg dives into the CCW market with the MC1sc 9mm pistol (#89001), their first striker-fired semiautomatic. Semi-Auto

Mossberg MC1sc 9mm Pistol Review

Brad Fitzpatrick

Mossberg dives into the CCW market with the MC1sc 9mm pistol (#89001), their first...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

G&A Editor Eric Poole and Viking Tacticals's Kyle Lamb talks about 2 new pistols from SIG Sauer and a Lipsey's Special of the P365.

Going To The Range

Going To The Range

Jim and Scott show you how to make each trip to the shooting range a quality experience.

Dealing with Subcompacts

Dealing with Subcompacts

Jim and Rich cover the benefits and the challenges presented by very small pistols.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Kahr Arms officially broke ground on their new headquarters in Blooming Grove Township, in Pike Industry

Kahr Arms Breaks Ground on New Pennsylvania HQ

Handguns Online Staff - June 04, 2014

Kahr Arms officially broke ground on their new headquarters in Blooming Grove Township, in...

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most parts in just minutes.
Instead, the curtain-rod engineer with a Accessories

8 Popular Drop-In Glock Mods

Dusty Gibson - July 17, 2013

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most...

In 1858 Beals invented and patented a spur-trigger, single-action, percussion revolver. The unique Revolvers

Remington Timeline: 1858 - Beals Revolver

Handguns Online Staff - September 09, 2016

In 1858 Beals invented and patented a spur-trigger, single-action, percussion revolver. The...

See More Stories

More Semi-Auto

Build the Desert Eagle pistol of your dreams, thanks to Magnum Research's new build website. Semi-Auto

Review: Magnum Research Custom Desert Eagle

J. Scott Rupp - June 03, 2019

Build the Desert Eagle pistol of your dreams, thanks to Magnum Research's new build website.

The iconic Walther PPK/S is back, and now it is made in the USA. Semi-Auto

Walther PPK/S Review

James Tarr - October 10, 2019

The iconic Walther PPK/S is back, and now it is made in the USA.

SIG SAUER has introduced the American Made P210 Standard pistol to the U.S. Commercial Market. Semi-Auto

SIG P210 Standard Pistol: Legendary and American Made

Handguns Online Staff - April 23, 2019

SIG SAUER has introduced the American Made P210 Standard pistol to the U.S. Commercial Market.

See More Semi-Auto

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×